September 30, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – The American Postal Workers Union has won a major victory on staffing in post offices – a victory that will result in the creation of over 9,000 new positions within 90 days.
In a September 5th ruling, Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg concluded that jobs in four- and six-hour post offices must be assigned to clerks – not Part-Time Postmasters. A September 22 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines procedures for implementing the award.
The ruling establishes a minimum of 9,000 new career jobs. The union expects thousands of additional new career jobs to be created as the process unfolds.
The dispute arose in 2012, when management unveiled the POStPlan – which reduced the hours of operation at thousands of small post offices around the country from 8 hours to 2, 4 or 6 hours. Very few of the affected offices employed workers represented by APWU. In more than 13,000 offices, less than 350 jobs were held by clerks; the rest were held by non-bargaining unit employees.
In addition to reducing the hours, the POStPlan changed the organizational structure and the duties of postmasters who worked in the affected offices. Under the POStPlan, management began replacing the postmasters, who no longer had managerial or supervisory responsibilities, with part-time nonunion personnel.
The APWU filed a grievance challenging the assignment of part-time staff In the POStPlan offices. The union believed the hiring of nonunion temps or part-time workers violated the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Several days of arbitration hearings were held from May through September 2013.
In his ruling, Arbitrator Goldberg sided with the union – full-time career employees should be working in these offices.
Noting the Postal Service’s need for cost-savings, he relaxed some of the rules in POStPlan facilities. It's expected that over 9,000 full-time union positions will be added to post offices across the country as a result of the arbitration.
“This is historic,” said Bob Johnson, the president of the Greater CT Area Local. “We haven’t had APWU members in most of these offices in decades, and now to have to have full-time positions in six-hour offices – that’s phenomenal!”